College Sports

Can’t get enough: McKendree women’s soccer team on postseason roll

The McKendree University women’s soccer team can’t get enough of a good thing.

The Bearcats (16-4-1) will begin play in their first NCAA Division II Tournament at 1 p.m. Friday against the Davis & Elkins College Senators (10-9) at Legends Stadium in Quincy.

Davis & Elkins (10-9), located in Elkins, W. Va., defeated Ursuline 2-1 on Saturday in the championship game of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

McKendree, meanwhile, won its first Great Lakes Valley Conference title Sunday with a 2-1 triumph in overtime over Rockhurst in Indianapolis. Belleville West High graduate Sydnee Carroll, a sophomore forward, settled the matter with a goal in the 93rd minute.

Hopefully we can keep it rolling. They’re playing well together and they’re playing hard. We’ve got a good mix. We’ve got some workhorses and we’re scoring goals. It’s one of those kind of deals that makes us successful.

McKendree women’s soccer coach Tim Strange

“It’s just been a crazy run,” said 18th-year McKendree coach Tim Strange, whose club also defeated Bellarmine and Truman State in the conference tournament.

“Hopefully we can keep it rolling,” Strange said. “They’re playing well together and they’re playing hard. We’ve got a good mix. We’ve got some workhorses and we’re scoring goals. It’s one of those kind of deals that makes us successful.”

If McKendree wins Friday, it would get a rematch with Truman State at noon Sunday, also at Legends Field. Truman State is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, while the Bearcats are seeded third. The top seed in the Midwest is Grand Valley State.

There are 48 teams in the national tournament.

Scouting the Senators

Strange said Davis & Elkins, seeded sixth in the Midwest Region, is a formidable opponent led by sophomore forward Katrina Giantsopolous (12 goals) and sophomore defender Ellie Rossiter (two goals). The goalie is sophomore Lauren Hill, who owns a 1.17 goals-against average, 79 saves and eight shutouts. Davis & Elkins has scored 22 goals.

“We’re kind of figuring out what they’re about, what kind of system they play and how they do things,” Strange said Wednesday as he was watching tape of the Senators. “Defensively, they’re OK. They’re a team that looks like they’re just kind of battlers.

“They’re a pretty good-sized team. They’ve got No. 7 (Giantsopolous) up top that’s decent and No. 9 (Rossiter) helps her out. Talent-wise, on paper, we’re probably more talented. But when it comes down to it, it’s who can be organized and who can be the team that gets it done.”

Scouting the Bearcats

McKendree has scored 42 goals, led by Carroll’s 17. Junior Rachel Kaltwasser, an Althoff graduate, has five goals. Junior Chelsea Whittaker and freshman Amanda Williams have four goals apiece. Freshman goalie Zoe Brochu, a native of Canada, has a 0.63 goals-against average, 88 saves and 11 shutouts. Opponents have scored just 13 goals.

“We can’t get away from what we’re good at,” Strange said. “Hopefully, (doing) that takes us a little bit further. ... We don’t want to look past this team we’re playing, because you never know. Our goal is to hopefully get past Friday and then see what Sunday brings. Hopefully, we can get a result in both.”

She’s fitter than she’s been, so she gets opportunities. She’s scored a lot of big goals for us so far. She’s got a talent and ability to find the back of the net. The biggest thing players don’t realize when they’re playing against her is they look at her and say, ‘She’s not going to be very fast.’ But she’s the fastest player on the field.

McKendree women’s soccer coach Tim Strange on sophomore Sydnee Carroll

Carroll has been a force all season for McKendree, which hasn’t lost since Oct. 14.

“She’s fitter than she’s been, so she gets opportunities,” Strange said. “She’s scored a lot of big goals for us so far. She’s got a talent and ability to find the back of the net. The biggest thing players don’t realize when they’re playing against her is they look at her and say, ‘She’s not going to be very fast.’ But she’s the fastest player on the field.”

Freshman Anna Hanger, another Althoff graduate, has been a rock on defense.

“It’s unbelievable how she’s playing as a freshman, coming in with the ability to read the game,” Strange said. “She’s the best recruit we’ve brought in in a long time that knows how to play as a freshman. She’s so good at reading balls and reading players.”

Other key players for McKendree include senior back Claire Skaggs, sophomore back Sydnie Markowski, senior midfielder Liz Kaiser, freshman midfielder Kate Bixby and senior forward Danielle Hareb.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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